STEM education is the intentional integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and their associated practices to create a student-centered learning environment in which students investigate and engineer solutions to problems, and construct evidence-based explanations of real-world phenomena with a focus on a student’s social, emotional, physical, and academic needs through shared contributions of schools, families, and community partners.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical to ongoing economic success in Florida. Nationwide, growth in STEM careers outpaces that of any other occupational category. In addition STEM careers offer higher beginning salaries and more career earning potential than most other fields. Today’s careers require STEM skills at all levels of employment from service industries to engineering. Young adults who do not possess high level skills in mathematics, science and technology are at a significant career disadvantage not only because of the tremendous opportunities for high-wage, high demand STEM careers, but also because these skills are vital for success in other industry sectors. This combination of high need and high opportunity in STEM fields requires us to consider the proper preparation and support for individuals pursuing STEM studies.
STEM education is best sustained by supporting individual content areas as well as integrated experiences. Additionally, integrated coursework and projects can be used to support both the academic standards and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Standards. STEM education requires an integrated learning approach where problem solving and engineering practices are included, where technology is seamlessly integrated throughout, and where there are high expectations for achievement in mathematics and science. STEM education is not restricted to the disciplines of mathematics and science. Providing safe and healthy school environments as well as coursework in other subject areas (e.g, art, language arts, social studies, health, etc) provide opportunities to improve learning, processing, research, literacy and communication skills that also support and enhance the various STEM programs.

With the integration of Art, to include the science and math, art, music, or performance, STEM becomes STEAM. Many schools in the state of Florida, and other states around the country support the arts with full integration in math and science to promote a STEAM Program. As one example, schools in the Fort Pierce area participate in a STEM Rap battle. Students prepare rap songs and videos based on scientific concepts and theories. The outcome is music and science combined. A winning performance may be seen at:

Reading is essential in all content areas. Schools recognize the importance of reading in the curriculum and wish to emphasize the reading component of math and science. For these schools, STEAM adds Reading and becomes STREAM. There are many STREAM schools - typically elementary - across our state. There are many great reading resources for science content, and STREAM schools will often have a science reading library aligned to the content standards.

In 2015, the Federal Department of Education included Computer science in STEM and renamed STEM to STEM + C. This term has not seen a great adoption across the nation. However, in some cases, the Technology component of STEM has grown to include computer science. For these schools, where coding and computer science is used to enhance math and science concepts, they have become SCREAM schools: Science, Computer Science Technology, Reading, Arts, and Mathematics.

Schools and Districts choose their definitions of STEM and may define things differently across the state. Since there is no formal definition, these are terms that help us explain the basics. True STEM, STEAM, STREAM, and SCREAM happen in the classroom, and the teachers help us define that program for their schools.

What Constitutes a STEM Program of Study?
The acronym STEM is fairly specific in nature referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics; however, the concept of STEM encompasses much more than the sum of its parts. Workers in STEM occupations use science and math to solve problems and drive our nation's innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries. STEM programs of study are typically classified based upon four occupational clusters: computer technology; mathematical sciences; engineering and surveying; and natural, physical and life sciences. STEM programs in Florida's Public Schools must embrace the integration of technology and engineering in science and mathematics.

STEM Programs include the following features:

 A curriculum driven by problem‐solving, discovery and exploratory learning that requires students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution.

 Nature of technology; engineering design; and systems thinking, maintenance and troubleshooting incorporated into the science and mathematics curricula.

 Innovative instruction allows students to explore greater depths of all of the subjects by utilizing the skills learned.2

 Technology provides creative and innovative ways to solve problems and apply what has been learned.

 Independent and collaborative research projects embedded in the curricula.

 Collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills threaded throughout the curricula.

 Opportunities for mentoring by business, industry, and research organization leaders.

Access to STEM programs should not be limited. Programs should strive to increase the number of students enrolled, with emphasis on students from under represented subpopulations as well as those who may be struggling. Even those students who struggle in math and science during school can succeed on the job; with perseverance, many people who may have had difficulty with early math or science classes can later thrive in a STEM career.

What does a true STEM class, program, and School look like? See what components should be in each: